Do you want the good news or the bad news?

British philosopher-about-life Alain De Botton has written several intriguing, charming and gently hard-hitting books about travel, work, happiness, religion for atheists and how Proust might change your life. Now he has turned his fine mind on the news, how we consume it, how it consumes us.

The News: a User’s Manual is witty, thoughtful and quite concerning. De Botton explores our relationship with what is now an all-pervasive but oddly unexamined entity, through 25 archetypal news stories. He raises questions like: how come disaster stories are often so uplifting (and who decides The News is earthquakes and famines rather than “girl gets new cat for 6th birthday: happiness results”), what makes the love lives of celebrities so interesting, and why are tragic and startling events in far-off lands often… boring. Why do we care (or not) about what we care about and why?
De Botton has some interesting thoughts on this that actually make a lot of sense, and make you feel calmer and saner about the news cycle and its contents. Optimistically he has some suggestions about how The News might change slightly to really inform and educate us…

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